Sustainable Environment is one of five key Strategic Objectives in the Hepburn Shire Council Plan (2017-2021). The Council Plan outlines several key activities and actions in order to deliver upon this Strategic Objective.
Greenhouse gas emissions
Hepburn Shire Council is committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This includes emissions due to Council operations, but also supporting the community and industry within the Shire to address their own emissions.
Council is actively working to reduce its own carbon footprint through its Towards Zero Emissions Roadmap. This Roadmap outlines Council’s ambition to reach zero net emissions by 2021. It includes a number of specific actions to reduce energy consumption, together with some potential projects which could assist with reaching this goal. Council staff are implementing these specific actions, while also developing additional, emergent projects. Projects include:
- Installation of rooftop solar photovoltaic (PV) systems on Council facilities
- Retrofit of lighting in Council facilities with energy efficient LEDs
- Replacement of the Shire’s street lights with energy efficient LEDs
- Insulation and draft sealing of Council facilities
- Replacement of old and outdated appliances with energy efficient alternatives
- Fuel switching of appliances
- Installation of timers and smart controls to address unnecessary energy consumption
- Developing Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) to procure Council’s residual electricity consumption from renewable sources
- Purchase of electric passenger vehicles, when fit for purpose
- Investigating alternative fuel options for heavy vehicles and plant
The Roadmap notes the impact of organic waste sent to landfill. While Council does not currently operate a landfill site, this waste stream remains a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions. Council is currently investigating options to divert organic waste to landfill, including:
- Implementing a pilot anaerobic digestion project. This project aims to test the viability of operating a small scale anaerobic digester in the Shire, using organic waste sourced from local businesses and residents
- Expansion of the previous program of subsidised compost bins and worm farms for Shire residents
- Participating in and supporting community education programs around diversion of waste from landfill
Hepburn Shire has strong community leadership on sustainability projects, as evidenced by the existence of numerous Sustainability Groups. These groups work across many of the towns and villages around the Shire; they are vital in helping Council and the broader community in developing and implementing local projects. Hepburn Shire is home to Hepburn Wind, Australia’s first community owned windfarm.
Council is also a strong supporter of the Zero Net Emissions Transition (Z-NET) project. It was developed throughout 2018 by community, industry, government and a team of expert consultants. Z-NET Hepburn is the expansion of the Z-NET Uralla project, and has used historical and recent input from community members in the Shire to deliver a roadmap which is truly representative of the region. The project looks beyond just 100% renewable energy and uses real, local data to deliver an emissions baseline for:
- Land use
The project then identifies and analyses a number of projects, opportunities and challenges in order for the Hepburn Shire to reach zero net energy by 2025 and zero net emissions from all activities by 2030. This is outlined in the Z-NET Community Transition Plan (CTP), formally launched in April 2019.
Find out more about the Z-NET project and review the open source resources at: http://hepburnznet.org.au/
The Z-NET project is intended to be a blueprint, which can be customised, adapted and refined for different regions.
Hepburn Solar Bulk Buy
The MASH group, based out of Castlemaine, have been running the Hepburn Solar Bulk Buy throughout 2018 and 2019. Council has been a strong supporter of the Bulk Buy, and is impressed by the high uptake of solar across the region in recent times. This is just one of the community led projects which, under the banner of Z-NET, can assist with reaching zero net emissions.
Hepburn Shire Council offers sustainability funding to community through:
Towards Zero Community Grants
These grants are for emissions reduction activities in community. This may include capital upgrades such as appliance or lighting upgrades, solar PV, or other innovative projects such as community education. The amount available for each grant is not capped, but the budget is limited. These grants are released in December of year.
Community Grants – Sustainability stream
These grants are more focussed on specific small projects or programs. These grants are $1000-$2000 (depending on the application stream) and are released monthly.
This is a project where Council purchases solar PV systems upfront for eligible pensioners and low income households within the Shire. This cost is then recouped using a ‘Special Rates Charge’ through an interest free loan on the property. Households are only encouraged to proceed when modelling suggests that annual energy savings will be $100 greater than the loan repayments.
Compost Bins and Worm Farms
Council has previously offered subsidised compost bins and worm farms for Shire residents. This is not currently available, but Council staff are looking at the possibility of re-commencing the program.
Hepburn Shire has a strong community presence and knowledge around emission reductions. Council is working with community groups to develop education programs. This is with the intention of embedding knowledge more broadly within the community and building literacy around emission reduction activities.
Transition to Electric Vehicles (EVs)
Council is aware that a shift away from fossil fuel powered vehicles is on the way. In addition to transitioning Council’s own fleet to electric vehicles, there is potential to support the community in making the switch. Strategic placement of public charging stations will be critical in making the EV Transition a reality. There is already an EV charging station at Daylesford Town Hall (generously funded by Hepburn Wind) and some others scattered around the Shire. Council is looking to identify other areas which could benefit from a public charging station.
Project and funding opportunities are advertised on Council’s website, social media and in the newspaper, when available. Alternatively, please contact Council’s Sustainability Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Within the region:
Victoria is leading the way on environmental issues, particularly when it comes to climate change mitigation and adaptation. To ensure that we are delivering best practice projects, Council works closely with other Local Governments and experts in the region; through these partnerships, it is possible to deliver a wide range of high impact projects. Hepburn Shire Council is a proud member of the Central Victorian Greenhouse Alliance, together with 12 other Councils from Central and Northern Victoria.
Hepburn Shire Council has committed to the following external programs, with the intention of showing support for bold and collaborative action on Climate Change:
- The State Government’s Take2 initiative
- The Climate Council’s Cities Power Partnership
- Hepburn Wind MoU
- In 2018, Hepburn Shire Council and Hepburn Wind, with the support of the Shire’s existing sustainabaility groups, signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU). This MoU outlined how we would work collaboratively together, through the Z-NET project, to allow Hepburn to become a zero net emissions shire.
Council is implementing a number of projects aimed at reducing water usage at our sites. This includes:
- Upgrades to irrigation systems at parks and recreation reserves
- Turf replacement and pitch upgrades
- Water storage projects
- Accessing ground water for irrigation purposes
- Monitoring of water usage to identify excessive usage or leaks
Council conducted a program during 2017: Climate Resilient Recreation Facilities. This project delivered a plan to reduce reliance on potable water at several of Council’s highest usage sites. Several projects from this plan have already been carried out and others are ongoing.
By tracking water usage and implementing changes which can reduce reliance on potable water, Council hopes to achieve improved resilience to climate change impacts at our local recreation facilities and Council sites.